Andy Murray has retained his Brisbane International title with an adventurous 7-6(0) 6-4 defeat of a beefed up Grigor Dimitrov.
Anyone wondering who might be waiting in the wings when the current Big Four leave centre stage could do worse than look more closely at Dimitrov. The 21-year-old Bulgarian has a new coach and has added depth and scope to his groundstroke weapons in a bid to help him deliver on his long-touted Baby Federer moniker.
But, for the time being, it was business as usual for at least one member of tennis’ ruling quartet. Not that it looked that way initially, as the Scot lost 11 of the first 12 points and trailed 0-3. Murray saved a set point before running out a decisive tiebreak.
Although the top seed went a break down in the second set, it was standard fare for the defending champion, who rarely takes the motorway if a scenic route is available, usually one that involves a degree of off-roading. Read more (137 words)
Murray broke back at 3-4, with a stunning trademark backhand pass, a thunderbolt return of serve and a clean backhand winner down the line. The Scot held for 5-4 and finished off with a further break to wrap up his 25th tour title in 90 minutes.
In the post-match interview, the British number one praised his opponent, who was appearing in his first ATP final and had taken out Milos Raonic, Jürgen Melzer and Marcos Baghdatis along the way.
Somewhat enigmatically, Murray also fought back tears as he said, "I'd like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends. He's back home watching - you're going to get through it."
The Brisbane tournament has proved a vital game-sharpener after the extended off-season for Murray, who now moves on to the Australian Open in Melbourne on 14 January.